Day off work; here I sit high up in the stands, 37 degrees outside. Corporate box. Food, drink, great view of the game, enjoying a bit of corporate hospitality. Am I being softened up for a sale, thanked for previous work or both? And should that matter?
It’s certainly true that relationships are the lifeblood of business in the western world, and treating clients to gifts at Christmas, a lunch to say thanks or a day out at a sporting event often goes hand in hand. Other cultures might look at this and think you were ‘buying favours’, and in some cases that might be true. For my part, I have always found that being thanked in this way makes a nice impression, but has not overly influenced my decision to go with one provider or another. When I have reciprocated to my clients, it has been a genuine thank you to them for their support, and sometimes (say over a lunch) a chat about what we do and what we could do better.
It can sometimes backfire. I remember a Melbourne real estate agent telling me how their local newspaper advertising account manager had been in to see them to explain the new year’s rate rises. The agent almost blew his top and basically showed the rep the door, during which the rep blurted out “but I’ll take you to the footy!” to which came the reply “I don’t want to go to the footy with you!”. Ouch.